Before we talk about managed and unmanaged switch, we should first and foremost figure out what a switch is. Switches are boxes that connect a number of other devices together on a Local Area Network (LAN) and utilize what is called packet switching to effectively forward data to and from connections. Generally, There are two types of switch—managed and unmanaged switch. Here we will discuss the differences between the two types and why managed switch is recommended.
An unmanaged switch on the other hand behaves like a “plug and play” device. It cannot be configured and simply allows the devices to communicate with one another. They tend to be less expensive than managed switches, as they have lower capacity and less flexibility. Generally, they don’t see much use outside of smaller and less intensive networking environments. Managed switches are fully configurable, and can be monitored and adjusted at your discretion. Although the management method and degree of configuration varies, they are typically more expensive than unmanaged switches, but offer much greater flexibility.
There are several reasons why a managed switch is recommended.
Managed switches give you better control over your LAN traffic and offer advanced features to control the traffic. Managed switches have all the features of an unmanaged switch and additionally have the ability to configure, manage, and monitor your LAN. So this helps you to monitor and decide who should have access to your network and gives you greater control over data flow through your network.
With a managed switch you can secure your network connections and also protect any unused ports on your switch. For example, if there is an unused port on your managed switch, you can disable that port or even apply MAC address filtering so as not to allow unauthorised users or devices to access the network by just plugging in. Managed switches also require additional authentication through password protection of the network.
Redundancy means to provide an alternate data path to network traffic to safeguard a network in case a connection or cable fails. Managed switches incorporate Spanning Tree Protocol or STP to provide path redundancy in the network. This provides redundant paths but prevents loops that are created by multiple active paths between switches. STP allows one active path at a time between two network devices, prevents loops, and establishes redundant links as backups so that there is lesser downtime. This makes job for a network administrator easier and also proves more profitable for a business.
The Quality of Service (QoS) feature of a managed switch also allows you to prioritize your network traffic by assigning a higher priority to the critical traffic. This helps to improve network performance and helps in better transmission of delay-sensitive data such as real-time voice. So by assigning highest priority to voice data you can ensure the voice packets don’t get dropped or delayed and mangled during transmission and you can hear crystal clear voice during a conversation.
Port mirroring is a feature used on managed switches which helps to diagnose network problems. A Managed Switch allows you to configure Port Mirroring to send copies of traffic to a single port on the same switch for analysis by a network analyser. The network analyser then allows you to diagnose and fix problems without taking the network out of service, reducing downtime.
A managed switch is more intelligent and offers more control, flexibility, and features, some you may not even know you need. So if you are still undecided between an unmanaged and a managed switch, then please do not hesitate in getting in touch with FS.COM. We will be more than happy to help with your networking needs.